I happened to make a comment reply a few moments ago detailing my criticisms of HZD. I've been loving the game so far, but there's been a number of things nagging at me about the game, and I kind of wanted to let them out.
I attempted to avoid any spoilers, but if you want the game to be a total surprise or don't want your excitement ruined by negativity, you may want to skip to the TL;DR.
I love HZD, but there's a number of things so far that are bothering me. In many ways, the game is very well done, but it also relies on a lot of the cliches of the genre.
HZD does, indeed, have fetch quests. "Oh, I know you're busy saving the world and all, but could you go grab my lucky ring out of a hog's throat?" There's even a mission category for it: Errands. Do they attempt to throw some story into the fetch quests? Yes, but quite often it's lackluster.
It many ways, HZD plays it safe, doing the same things that every other game in the genre does– sometimes innovating them, sometimes not– Climb these (walking) towers to discover the map, clear bandit camps, do these (hi-tech) dungeons, tediously collect items from the ground and animals, use the lack-luster crafting system to upgrade you're ammo and storage capacities and craft ammo, find collectibles, etc. Some of these things I don't necessarily mind, but overall they make it super obvious that I'm playing a game– i.e. for me they break the immersion.
There's a couple other points that bother me as well– At times, the map can feel very densely packed– it's usually an annoyance to get from point A to point B without mowing down a herd or two of robo-animals. This wouldn't be so bad if the robo-animals weren't always so dang aggressive. I understand the predators being instantly hostile; however, I feel that the "herbivore" robo-animals, like the Strider, shouldn't necessarily be aggressive on sight. I should be able to more easily scare away a herd of Striders, or just casually walk through them, as long as I'm not being aggressive. If I do startle a "heribvore", or even some predators, their initial reaction shouldn't be to charge me and attack– they should posture and attempt to scare me away– of course defending themselves if I respond with further aggression. Regardless of the realism of the behavior one way or the other, I feel this would provide better gameplay.
There's also just a bunch of little things here and there that break the immersion for me, on a somewhat frequent basis. The dialogue is often guilty of this. There's often little contradictions. One such example– A soldier asks you to find a/some missing soldiers (the dialogue in this quest line often makes in unclear if you're searching for one particular soldier, or a group of them– in the end you look for and find one soldier). After you find the soldier and report back to the quest giver, he thanks you for completing the task and finding the soldier. If you talk to him again, he asks, "So any progress on those missing soldiers?", even though you've already completed the quest. Not a big deal, just some broken dialogue– except stuff like this happens all the time– stuff stated in a previous conversation not matching up with the current one, actions not matching words, etc.
Also, the stealth system is pretty horrible. The only guaranteed way to be hidden is to be crouching in tall grass/reeds (The game shows you an eye at the top of the screen– if it's closed you're hidden, and it has different appearances based on how easily visible you are– literally the only way to "close the eye" in the entirety of the game is by standing in tall grass (or in the hi-tech dungeons, smoke clouds, which are basically the same thing)– compare this to Oblivion which uses the same system). You can try breaking line of sight, moving slowly, etc– but it's kind of a crap shoot of whether or not you'll be spotted. Oh, you're hiding behind this crudely constructed wall? Too bad it has holes in it, you're spotted! I think if the game had a cover system– i.e. sticking to a wall, rock, etc (like most third person games which rely on stealth do nowadays– Metal Gear Solid for example), that would go a long way of alleviating the problem. This wouldn't be such a big deal if the game didn't rely so heavily on stealth. Sure, you can Leroy Jenkins into a herd of animals and go at it, but for most big encounters in the game (in the story and many side activities), the game expects and is designed for you to use stealth. Say you're attacking a large camp– it may have a couple dozen human enemies and a few really powerful robo-animals. If you charge in, pretty much every enemy in the camp will instantly aggro you, which can often be nearly impossible to overcome (or at least a heck of a lot harder than using stealth). The only way to tackle this camp in easily digestible portions, is using stealth. The sad thing is that combat is way more fun, engaging and better designed than stealth, but it's usually not an option (or at the least, heavily discouraged by the design of the mission/activity).
Overall, I love HZD. The atmosphere, world, story, designs, and the main character, Aloy, are absolutely phenomenal. The game is massive and there's a ton of stuff to do. There's a lot of freedom. There's many times the game inspires a sense of awe, wonder, and mystery. HZD will probably be one of those games that I remember playing 10 years from now. However, HZD is very far from a perfect game.
I'm sorry this rant is so badly formatted, but I'm tired.
Note: I'm only 30% of the way through the game so far, so perhaps some of my observations are premature.
TL;DR: Horizon Zero Dawn is an awesome game, but far from perfect. Definitely worth playing and will leave a lasting impression, but probably not Game of the Year.
So, have you experienced similar issues with the game? Are there things about my criticisms that you disagree with? Is there anything you want to let out?